RIGA, April 27 (Xinhua) -- Latvian health authorities will propose measuring various COVID-19-related variables over several four-week periods to decide on relaxing the restrictions introduced in the country to contain the spread of COVID-19, Health Minister Ilze Vinkele said on public radio Monday.
Data shows that changes in the infection dynamic appear over a period of four weeks, the minister said, adding that a set of measurable criteria will be proposed as a basis for easing the restrictions.
The criteria will include the number of infected people, the rate of new infections, hospitalizations and severe cases, as well as possible cluster outbreaks at institutions or in populated areas.
By monitoring these variables over a four-week period, it will be possible to determine whether efforts to curb the epidemic have been successful or not, Vinkele said.
Epidemiologists also propose using the basic reproduction number, or the expected number of new cases directly generated by one COVID-19 case, as one of the criteria.
The health minister believed that COVID-19 infections are currently plateauing in Latvia but that it is still too early to claim victory as there are too many unknowns associated with this new virus.
The Health Ministry is well aware that maintaining the state of emergency in the long run would be too tiresome for society, but on the other hand, the cost of relaxing the restrictions too soon could be a new spike in infections. "Unfortunately, such is the tricky nature of this virus. Relaxation of the restrictions must be based on certain criteria," the minister said.
A nationwide state of emergency which Latvia declared on April 13 expires on May 12, but Vinkele believed that some of the precautionary measures will be left in place long beyond that date. Enditem